February 2, 2015
Snapchat Launches Discover
Another social media powerhouse had decided to jump into the news business. Disappearing content provider Snapchat has finally released its much-anticipated news app, Discover. Discover allows media outlets to post small content snippets via the massively popular social media messaging app.
So, is this a case of delivering what the public wants, or is it another social media company trying to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up? Before answering that questions, let’s look at how it works:
Users tap to open a new story, swipe left to view different stories and swipe up to read more. And, ten major news sources have already bought in, including powerhouses such as CNN, ESPN and NatGeo. According to the media agreement, the ten media companies will generate new content for the app at least every 24 hours. This content will include both videos and text articles.
By connecting with Snapchat, media companies are hoping to woo younger audiences who are moving from traditional print and TV media in droves.
The question this move begs, though, is not will younger people connect. Instead, the real question is two-fold: First, what sort of content would grab the attention of Snapchat users. And, second, do Snapchat users want news from their favorite selfie app?
Sure, Snapchat’s motivation for pretending they do is clear. The company has to justify its multi-billion-dollar valuation. Tough to do when your chief “product” is middle schoolers swapping disappearing pics with their crushes. But the company has a big hurdle to overcome if they want to engender buy-in. They have to explain how their product isn’t Twitter. Sure, more young people are gravitating toward Snapchat and Instagram, but that doesn’t mean they want to get their news from these forums…or even that they want “news” at all.
But that apparent lack of a market has not stopped social media sites and apps from attempting to lure an “underserved” demographic into their ranks. And, if you look at their marketing push, Snapchat does make a good case for this move. Here’s a quote from their blog announcing Discover:
“Social media companies tell us what to read based on what’s most recent or most popular. We see it differently. We count on editors and artists, not clicks and shares, to determine what’s important…”
That sounds terrific, but what if those “editors and artists” are out of step with what Snapchat users want? Will Discover morph into yet another Buzzfeed clone?